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my day

So much STUFF

Anyone who has seen me lurch in or out of one of the 7 schools I currently work in will know that I carry a lot of stuff around on my back. Arguably much too much stuff.

Here we have (clockwise from the top):

  • A ladder man cause-and-effect toy
  • The orange, phonology bag contains a huge amount of speech sound-related pictures, assessments and games (including a build-a-cactus game and ‘Billy’, my always useless puppet)
  • The Newcastle Sage Gallery bag is the perfect size to fit my barrier/wall thing, along with lots of language picture resources and a few small assessments
  • The two brown bags in the middle are full of stickers and paperwork
  • The lovely leather satchel houses my laptop
  • There’s a white bag (almost hidden) with a huge number of musical instruments used in group activities and in one-to-one intensive interaction sessions
  • Then it’s my imaginative play bag, which itself contains a number of bags, including a hand-made bee-skin faux-fur bag full of amazing soft toys, a similar ladybird-skin bag full of toy food and crockery, an actual sofa, chairs, toys for the toys to play with, a plastic fly to land on their food when they’re having a picnic, a crocodile to spoil their sleep – you name it, it’s there.
  • Then the magnificent spotty bag contains my fishing game, my Mr Potato Head, bubbles, balloon, kaleidoscope, puzzle and my favourite lift-the-flap book.

I often go through my bags, thinking I’m going to thin it out a bit, but I always end up adding more pictures and toys.

A new addition for the Spring Term has been a velcro ball game, which I use during phonology input training. Here the daredevil Billy holds the targets that the child has to aim at (he gets extremely angry if they miss).

I took a picture recently, one hour into one of my mornings. Sometimes things get this messy. I tidied up soon afterwards – if I find it distracting then I can only imagine what it’s like for the children I work with. Here it is though – a horrible, enjoyable mess! (Click for full size).

My working week

I’m no longer contributing to the under-employment problem in the UK. It’s a bit of a shock to the system to be honest. I’m working one day a week alternating between two Staffordshire schools, and on the remaining four days I work for five Nottinghamshire primary schools (paid out of their pupil premium money) via the NHS.

It suits me so much better than community NHS work. In the community, if a child fails to attend an appointment, you will probably attempt to contact parents, the school or the health visitor; offer another appointment; send letters of ultimatum or discharge; complete a discharge report, which is sent to other professionals, who invariably resend the referral, etc. It just goes round and round.

When I work for a school, if the child is in school, I get to see them. If they are not in school, that isn’t really my problem. No paperwork is generated. I just see them next time they’re in.

Along with the school team, I get to decide who I will see that day, and I don’t have to contact parents multiple times to remind them about the session, nor indeed do I need to contact health visitors to get them to remind the parents about the session. I just see the child. I get to build strong relationships with the schools’ teaching assistants, and I can trust them to do the work that I set for the children. I get to focus on therapy in a way that, sadly, very few therapists do.

Still full time NHS

It’s a bad place to start, with an admission, but I may as well go ahead and admit that, I don’t have a business plan, but I have sent off for 250 business cards. I know this isn’t all that wise, but what can I say? They were cheap!

I’ve had a busy day in my NHS job today, discharged three children (two of whom had speech difficulties which have resolved, and one who spoke very freely with me and who just needs the right kind of encouragement to interact more in his nursery).

I’ve gone round an autistic child’s house, taking photos of objects that his family will use with him in picture exchange, and done the same at his nursery, and carried out two separate sessions with him in both of these settings.

I’ve also seen a seven year old girl who amused me with some rather scatological play ideas. She has a rather unusual interaction style and a real difficulty paying attention in the classroom and forming friendships. I will talk to her mother tomorrow to see what her experience is of the girl at home. It might be appropriate for us to follow up a diagnosis of ASD.

Finally, well after the day should have ended, I went to see a parent of a child on my caseload who is going through an extremely difficult time. She doesn’t have much of what we rather euphemistically call a ‘support network’ around her, so I tried to point her towards some services which I thought could help. I spoke to our vulnerable adult safeguarding manager before doing this.

Then, rather tragically, I came home and tried to do some work on an assessment and therapy tool I’m trying to develop. I won’t go into it now, but it involves the book ‘Papertoy Monsters’, folding, glueing, and lots of talk of ‘ad-hoc category formation’.

So there’s my ‘day in the life of an SLT’.